Bill C-5 seeks to amend three pieces of existing legislation to create the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a federal statutory holiday on September 30 each year, as a direct response to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
B. Background and Current Status
On September 29, 2020, the Government introduced Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), to designate September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and make it a federal statutory holiday.
Bill C-5 was adopted by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, without amendment, in November 2020. As of March 2021, Bill C-5 is awaiting debate at the report stage and third reading in the House of Commons.
Bill C-5 responds to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls “upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
The statutory holiday would apply to employees covered under Part III of the Canada Labour Code, as well as federal public sector employees. Part III covers federally regulated private sector workplaces and most federal crown corporations (e.g. interprovincial and international transportation, banking, telecommunications and broadcasting). This represents approximately 955,000 employees, or about 6% of the Canadian workforce.
Due to existing provisions in federal public service collective agreements, as well as past practices to extend similar terms to the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, employees in the federal public sector would also be entitled to the holiday.
In 2017, a private member’s bill (Bill C-369) was introduced for the creation of a statutory holiday in response to Call to Action 80. The proposed legislation died on the order paper in 2019.
C. Strategic Considerations
Bill C-5 directly responds to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. The Government committed to implementing these Calls to Action and has made Government-Indigenous relations a priority.
Hearings of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Bill C-369 and Bill C-5 provided an opportunity for National Indigenous Organizations, other groups, and individuals to share their views on the creation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Witnesses from Indigenous organizations were in favour of the creation of a statutory holiday to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage also sent a letter to all National Indigenous Organizations in January 2020 to confirm their position of support for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
As Bill C-5 is a legislative change, no financial investment is attached to the bill. Budget 2019 did provide $7 million in funding over two years to commemorate the legacy and history of residential schools; however, this funding sunsets in fiscal year 2020-21.
The Government of Canada has no constitutional authority to impose a statutory holiday for all Canadian employees, the majority of whom (94%) are subject to provincial and territorial employment standards legislation. Responsibility for labour matters in Canada is shared between the federal and provincial governments, as laid out in the Constitution Act, 1867. To establish a national statutory holiday for all Canadians, provincial and territorial governments would have to amend their respective labour legislation accordingly.
The bill would result in ten holidays in the federally regulated private sector, consistent with most provinces and territories, which provide between six and ten holidays per year. Countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) generally provide between seven and 15 holidays per year. The proposed holiday would place the federally regulated private sector at the OECD median of ten.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Thank you for your help!
You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.